Vegetarian Tempeh Curry - Indian Recipe

My friend Pandora introduced me to Curry. Actually she introduced me to a lot of ethnic food. Growing up in Iowa I didn't really get many chances to try food from other countries. Sure there was the Chinese place that served cashew chicken and the Mexican place with burritos, but you know what I mean.

I met Pandora while I was an intern at Longwood Gardens. She was a fellow intern and got herself hired. For all I know she is still there. This is Pandora at Wave Hill Gardens. She's also the one who did country themed dinner parties. I borrowed that idea from her. So far I've only done two, Italian and Turkish, but I'm hooked, I want to do more. 

She also took me my first Indian restaurant. I couldn't get enough of it, we took 45 minute commutes for the Saturday buffet; hmmm I can't remember the name.  It was north of Wilmington, Delaware in Pennsylvania - I'm thinking somewhere near King of Prussia. Indian food is one of the few foods I like as a buffet – everything is good except the soggy naan.

It was Jamie, another fellow intern, who showed me you could buy curry mixes from the grocery store.  We made them with tempeh because Jamie is a vegetarian.  For a long time I associated the taste of curry with tempeh.  I also associate it with folk music.  Here's Jamie at the Spring Gulch Folk Festival.  Good times. 

I did some experimenting with curries in Panama.  (There is a suprisingly high Mandrin and Indian population in Panama.)

It was there that I met Drew another Peace Corps Volunteer. He was up helping us with a Sex and Aids charla (talk); he showed us how to make coconut milk from the coconut. It's time consuming, but when you live in the middle of no-where with no electricity, it's fun entertainment. Actually cooking was my main passtime in Panama.

From that fresh coconut milk we made the most delicious pineapple curry. It's sweet and sour and soaked in rich coconut broth. Now that's a recipe I should share.  I think I have it written down somewhere.  I even found a photo of Drew on FaceBook opening up a pipa (young coconut) with a machette. Drew's still in Panama. He’s gone native; built himself a house and is working as the lead engineer on a clinic being built in the Darien.

With help from my three muses I have come up with a tasty curry I can make in Iowa. It's not authentic in anyway. I've never tried formal Indian cooking (although I should).  These days I have to get my coconut milk from a can. This is not local food at all. I think the closest palm trees are at least three states away, but every once in a while it's a delicious treat. Food for me is fuel for my body completely encased in culture and memories.  This dish has a ton of memories and it delicious!

The ingredient photo:

Vegetarian Tempeh Curry

2 carrots, slivered
1 onion, chopped
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 celeriac root, julienned
2 potatoes, cubed
1 package of tempeh, cubed
1/2 tablespoon Muchi curry powder
1 thumb fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 14 oz can coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 1/2 cups stock (chicken or veggie)
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup Mung bean sprouts
Canola oil
Salt to taste

Step 1: Start by chopping up the vegetables. Then, sauté everything in batches. This is the best way I have found to make sure everything is just the right tenderness. You want the veggies to be softened, but not mushy. Using a skillet over medium high heat add a little bit of oil, sauté the onions and mushrooms together. When they are slightly undercooked you want take them off the heat and put them in a bowl. Repeat this with the rest of the vegetables. Sauté the carrots and celeriac together, then the tempeh and finally the potato. You should now have all the sautéed ingredients in the bowl.

Step 2: In a 5-quart pot sauté the garlic, ginger, curry, and turmeric a little bit of oil. When the ingredients are fragrant and starting to brown add in the coconut milk and stock. Allow the coconut milk mixtures to come to a simmer. Leave the mixture uncovered and let it reduce until it is starting to thicken and get creamy (about 20 minutes).

Step 3: Mix in all the sautéed vegetables into the 5 quart pot of coconut sauce and continue heating until the mixture starts to simmer again. This will finish cooking the vegetables and bring everything up to the same temperature.

Step 4: Take the curry off the heat and mix in cilantro serve over basmati rice with a sprinkle of Mung bean sprouts on top.

Makes 4 good sized servings.


  1. love, love curry and tempeh. Will have to try your version some time.

  2. Anonymous2/02/2010

    Yum - I'll have to try this one, too! I love reading about your adventures - what an interesting life you lead!

  3. oh that curry looks AMAZING! I bet that it SMELLED divine too :)

  4. Anonymous2/02/2010

    that curry looks to die for. i will need to try that asap along with your homemade gnocchi!

  5. yum. sounds delish. i'm meaning to try and make tempeh soon - i don't like how most in teh store is flavored in some strange way.

  6. Yeah, there were three kinds of tempeh at the store a whole grain, vegetable and then just ordinary soy. I considered getting the other kinds, but decided to go with what I know and got the soy kind.

  7. I just picked up a coconut at the local produce market because I thought my daughters would get a huge kick out of the whole coconut experience (although there will be no machete involved). I really enjoy reading a post like this that involves so many personal memories and connections with food. In fact, I live just down Rt. 202 from LongWood Gardens! So, throwing in a factoid like that just inspires the feeling that we are all a lot more connected than we may realize.

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


  8. Anonymous2/02/2010

    curry is so great! your pics look wonderful, must have been delish. oh and thanks for your comment about the reusable mugs on my last post! you're totally right...i actually have one already (and i love it, it's a really cute pink and benefitted a breast cancer charity) but it's currently at my mom's house. i usually bring a kleen kanteen of water with me to school, but since i forgot it yesterday i resorted to the disposable cup tea :/. excuses excuses lol!

  9. I've never made curry before but love to eat it - this looks great!

  10. Foy, your photos look amazing! I've never made curry and I don't know how many times I've written that on others blogs. Maybe we can get together sometime and you can teach me ;)

  11. The machete is used all over the world, but it can be hard to find a quality machete in North America. If looking for durable machetes for hunting, camping, hiking, or agriculture; check out MacheteSpecialists.com.

  12. Anonymous2/05/2010

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I really feel hungry!


    food social network * wine social network

  13. JJ - we brought our machette's home with us. I'm sure customs wondered. A machette is only $3 in Panama. Plus I was kind of attached my really big knife. I used that sucker for everything from mowing the lawn to killing scorpians.

  14. I used to get these at a Indian restaurant and totally loved them. Never thought about making them! Thanks for the recipe!

  15. wow, finally a veg recipe which isn't boring. thanks.

  16. This looks amazing! You friended me on FoodBuzz, so I wanted to check out your blog. LOVE this recipe and many others here. Can't wait to try some out. Look forward to future reading!

  17. curry is so great! your pics look wonderful, must have been delish. oh and thanks for your comment about the reusable mugs on my last post! you're totally right...i actually have one already (and i love it, it's a really cute pink and benefitted a breast cancer charity) but it's currently at my mom's house. i usually bring a kleen kanteen of water with me to school, but since i forgot it yesterday i resorted to the disposable cup tea :/. excuses excuses lol!

  18. Anonymous7/09/2010

    Hi this is an interesting blog,that recipe look so good and delicious.

  19. I love tempeh...I might just make some tempeh curry this week!

  20. This looks like an appetizing dish. Never had tempeh before but I love curry. This is absolutely a new dish for me. And I love to learn new recipes with new ingredients. Thank you.

  21. wow. i want this now. darn. this will definitely be on my list of things to cook this week! thanks so much!

  22. Anonymous7/25/2010

    that looks super yummy!!

  23. Curry is a great way to connect with new or old friends.

  24. This looks gorgeous! I've had curry on my mind lately, and now I really, really want some...thanks!

  25. I always use tofu in my curries...tempeh is a great idea!

  26. wow, lovely photos and a great recipe. i love curry and am always looking for new ways to cook with it. thanks for a delicious recipe!

  27. I like coconut milk and tempeh. Thanks a lot for this. Looks yummy. I haven't cooked with tempeh in awhile. He really takes in all the flavors that you are marinating it in. Just a great food source.

  28. I just stumbled on this Indian recipe app, hope it helps someone

  29. This good way to attempt for the consideration of the work and it work quality.

  30. Hi Foy,
    This is a beautiful Indian dish that is packed with flavor, it will be delicious. Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  31. What wonderful memories - thank you for sharing them! Your Vegetarian Tempeh Curry has so many lovely flavourful ingredients; I can just imagine how delicious it is!